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City discusses changes to fireworks ordinance

The Bonne Terre City Council discusses their fireworks ordinance after receiving numerous complaints about the noise all month long.

The Bonne Terre City Council recently talked about making changes to their fireworks ordinance after several residents complained about having to deal with the noise all month long.

Bonne Terre Alderwoman Andrea Richardson said she received many complaints about fireworks and in her opinion and other's opinions, they don’t need 30 days of it.

“I was raised that you don’t make noise after 9 p.m. at night and before 9 a.m. in the morning,” Richardson said. “You don’t disturb others' peace, but I do understand keeping it open a little bit later during Fourth of July. What I don’t understand is why we have it until 11 p.m. at night. It just baffles me.”

Richardson said she also doesn’t understand why they need 30 days of it. She added she had looked at several other city ordinances for fireworks and those were either four or five days total in length.

“I think most of them cut off at 10 p.m., which if it’s only for five days, I think people can get behind that, but not after 10 p.m. except on the Fourth,” Richardson said. “Again, I know that people with pets and PTSD, 30 days of these explosions are too much.”

Bonne Terre City Administrator Jim Eaton said he wasn’t sure when the ordinance was last reviewed and asked if anyone else knew.

Bonne Terre City Attorney Seth Pegram said he looked at it and it was the same ordinance from 2007. Richardson added that before that it was a shorter time period.

Bonne Terre Mayor Brandon Hubbard wondered how long they sell the fireworks for in the city. He was informed that vendors are allowed to sell fireworks in the city for 30 days.

Bonne Terre Police Chief Doug Calvert said that at one point they were banned for a short period, but then people came to the council meeting and complained to the council at that time.

“They wanted to know why they were selling fireworks in the city for 30 days, but could only shoot them off for four or five,” Calvert said. “So the council then decided to give two weeks before and two weeks after the Fourth. Originally they allowed it, but wouldn’t allow any aerial devices, which created nothing but a headache for us.”

Richardson said she understands that people shoot off fireworks and they have to be sold somewhere, but doesn’t know why they need that much time.

It was also asked if the city makes any money from the fireworks stand being in city limits and Bonne Terre City Clerk Mary Topping said they get the $565 for the fireworks permit and a business license, plus the sales tax revenue.

Hubbard asked what the police department’s perspective was on the issue and Bonne Terre Police Lt. Bill Stegall felt that a month is very long and he agrees with what he is hearing and that a week would be enough.

“That way there is a weekend in there and one of the biggest things I remember when we had so many restrictions on it is that it doesn’t matter what ordinance you have when it comes up to those few days,” Stegall said. “We were just completely inundated and there was absolutely no way we could keep up with it. I think that was one reason it went too far, as far as the length of it, but a week’s worth of time, if the council can settle that so there is either a weekend before or after the 4th it will give people that opportunity to be able to have their fun.”

Stegall said as they have all seen this past month, people have no problem to shoot them all week long. 

“We want to be reasonable so everybody gets their opportunity, but then the rest of the folks who are trying to sleep or have dogs have their peace,” Stegall said. “That week worth, I think will do it. I just ask that you make sure it’s consecutive all the way through.”

Stegall stressed to the public that if the fireworks are going on too late, don’t be afraid to call the police, that is what they are there.

After much discussion the council agreed that a new ordinance will be drawn up by Pegram for fireworks permitted within city limits from July 1 through July 7 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the exception of July 4 where there will be an 11 p.m. curfew.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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